Monday, April 2, 2012

Idol Reflections

Obviously, I've been a little lax in my Idol blogging lately. I've even missed a week or two while in the throes of launching the musical and subsequently recovering from my Post Traumatic Show Disorder that followed striking our set. I'm bummed I missed Billy Joel week; Billy is probably one of my all-time favorite singers. But I'm back. I did tune in last week to watch the Idols be mentored by the amazing Stevie Nicks, but I didn't have a chance to reflect promptly enough to weigh in on who I thought would be sent home. (I did kind of figure it would be HeeJun...for real!)

I'm not going to lie; I've been feeling my Idol passion waning a bit lately. Maybe it's being inundated by so many other singing shows. Maybe it's the formula finally getting a bit stale. Maybe it's having the reminder last fall of just how much I missed Simon Cowell and resent how watered down the judging has become in the hands of Randy, JLo, and Steven. In all honest, ten years is a long time to follow one show, particularly one that offers no real original content from week to week outside of wondering what songs people will sing. I mean, at least with The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, there's something truly DIFFERENT every week. Well, generally different.

And yet, I can't just quit Idol. I stick around despite the fact that I sometimes find myself bored, that I often fast forward through the critiques, and I don't feel the same passion that I once felt sitting on the living room floor of my old apartment watching Kelly Clarkson become a star.

With all that being said, there is definitely something to be said for this season. The show has, of late, done a good job striving for some variety. That doesn't mean the winners have displayed such variety, but we've had weeks of covering a musical spectrum. Creativity seems to get a little bit more play as the blander elements of the competition get picked off a little sooner. There are several performers that I like quite a bit on the current season, several performers that I could imagine downloading . The problem, of course, is that those more creative elements don't often survive to the finale ... and don't land those dreamed-of record deals.

Of the eight left, here is how I would rank them. This doesn't mean that my top choices are necessarily going to win, but it does mean that I think they DESERVE to win. It's up to America, and we all know America's taste can be pretty suspect.

1. Phillip Phillips -- I know Phillip probably can't win. He's probably too niche, but damn, that kid is amazing. The way that he's able to massage melodies and turn every song he sings into his own very groovy tune is incredible. Of all the performers, he's the one I look forward to the most because I know it's going to be entertaining and unique.
2. Elise Testone I have a long history of supporting the chick rockers. Okay, maybe that's not 100% true. I was a passionate Allison Iraheta fan. Had I watched that season, I would have been all about Carly Smithson. It did, admittedly, take me a long time to warm to Haley Reinhart last year. I'm not making that mistake again. If Elise's powerhouse take on "Whole Lotta Love" didn't rock your freakin' socks off last week, then you maybe need to call a doctor and make sure that you are actually in possession of a beating heart. Again, we know that the odds are against women in this competition, and they seem to be even more stacked against women who rock rather than women who sing treacly ballads. But this chick deserves to go the distance (or at least crack the top five).
3. Colton Dixon -- Okay, I'm sticking by my prediction from a couple weeks ago. This guy is going to win. The narrative is being perfectly laid out for us. The problem is that Colton feels just so darn safe and predictable at this point. I wasn't particularly enthused by his Lifehouse song last weekend. I'm a little nervous by that choice. We'll see if he's able to finally embrace that inner Lambert and be the exciting performer that I think lurks inside him.
4. Jessica Sanchez -- A lot of critics are pointing to Jessica as the big chance for women to finally reclaim a title. I'll be honest -- I'm not convinced. I thought her performance of "Beautiful Nightmare" last week was labored and a bit self-indulgent. I'd like to see her try something other than a big ballad and show some real grit and soul. Otherwise, she's just a tiny version of Pia Toscano.
5. Skylar Laine -- I like Skylar. I don't particularly like country music, but there's something about Skylar's spunk and spirit that makes me smile every week. I kind of like how she sings every song like she's freakin' MAD at it. She won't win, but she'll be entertaining, and isn't that just as important as anything else?
6. Joshua Ledet -- I don't get Joshua either. Like Jessica, I just feel like he's trying too hard. I thought his "Without You" was kind of bland and despite his tears, a bit soulless. Give me Kelly Clarkson's version any day! When he starts screaming and jumping around, I just kind of tune out.
7. Hollie Cavanaugh -- See above -- boring, soulless. Cute isn't enough.
8. DeAndre Brackensack -- There's no denying this kid is cute. He's ADORABLE! But man, the falsetto thing is really tired. It's not impressive to sing an entire song up in that falsetto range. The sad thing, too, is that when DeAndre goes down into "normal" range, there's a beautiful richness to his voice that gets lost when he goes to vocal outer space. I can understand girls voting for him like crazy, but this one trick pony really kind of needs to go home....soon.

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